Your dog’s unusual habits may not be a surprise to you anymore.
But even if you’re already accustomed to most, there are still some behaviors that make you question.
“What’s in the other dog’s ear anyway?”
“Why does my dog think they’re worth licking?”
Good news, this article has you covered.
Continue reading to learn:
- If it’s normal for your dog to do this or should you let them stop.
- If you should be worried about your dog getting an ear infection.
- 13 reasons your dog likes licking other dogs’ ears and vice versa.
- And much much more…
Why do dogs lick other dogs’ ears?
Dogs lick other dogs’ ears because they’re attracted to the smell and taste of earwax. It’s also their way of grooming, greeting, bonding, or showing submission. However, some dogs’ ear-licking behavior could also be a sign of anxiety, disorder, or illness.
13 reasons why dogs lick other dogs’ ears
#1: They find the smell and taste of earwax appealing
“Hmm. Where’s that yummy smell coming from?”
“Ah. It’s my sibling’s ear. Lemme lick ‘em.”
Dogs can be as weird and gross and icky as they can be.
But guess what?
They don’t care because for them earwax is fascinating.
Aside from the taste, they’re also drawn to its funky smell.
“I love that it has the right combination of saltiness, stickiness, and yumminess. ”
“Come, hooman, lemme lick yours, too.”
Ugh? No thanks.
It’s an offer not worth taking but your dog would love to do it for you in case you change your mind. Or not?
There’s a deeper reason why dogs lick their fellow dogs’ ears, and it might need a vet’s attention.
You’ll know more about it later.
#2: A natural manner of greeting
“Oh. Hello there, hooman.”
“Hello there, my fellow doggo.”
Licking is one of the many ways dogs try to communicate with you.
Sometimes, this is even accompanied by the wagging of their tail.
For dogs though, their basic way of greeting is a bit more complex.
- They move towards each other (slowly and calmly).
- When they approach, it’s like they’re making an imaginary semicircle on the ground.
- They start sniffing the other dog, particularly in the areas where there’s a strong scent.
- They’ll particularly smell the backend (or the butt area) of the other dog.
- Greetings go well when their bodies start to relax.
- When the connection is already established, it will then progress to licking parts of the other dog, like the ears, face, bum.
It may seem like a long process but according to research done by Camille Ward (Ph.D.), greetings of dogs’ meeting in the park only lasts for six to eight seconds.
After then, the dogs will immediately decide if they want to play or leave.
#3: Their way of showing affection
“Can I lick you next, mom?”
That’s my dog after licking their sibling.
They turn to me.
Your dog licks your other dog’s ear to show their affection to them.
It’s their way of telling them,
“Hey, I’m comfortable when I’m with you.”
Yes, I know.
It’s gross but isn’t it sweet?
Just keep your distance when you see them doing this though because you’re surely next.
You might also want to know: Why does my dog sit in front of me?
#4: It’s instinctual to them
A study from NCBI shows that licking contributes a huge part to how a mother dog takes care and nurtures their offspring.
This is also how a puppy communicates to their mother.
Your little pup licks their mom’s ears to signal them that they’re already hungry.
They carry the licking behavior as they grow up, as it already becomes instinctual.
#5: Their way of bonding
Did you know that the dog’s ears contain pheromones?
It’s a chemical that dogs (and other animals) produce that can change the behavior of the other dogs around them.
One of the ways that a momma dog bonds with their baby is by licking their ears.
Aside from grooming them, it’s also a good way of making their pups feel safe.
For adult dogs, they like to lick each other’s ears before going to bed because it releases endorphins.
It makes them feel calm and relaxed.
And it feels close to home.
#6: They have a certain disorder
There must be nothing to worry about when your dog licks other dogs’ ears.
But if they’re already doing it excessively to the point of harming the other,
then your little licker pooch might be suffering from a compulsive disorder.
Research shows that Compulsive Disorders in dogs are when behaviors that are usually normal ones turn abnormal because they are done repetitively.
Dogs who do this want to lessen their distress.
So, take them to the nearest vet immediately to know how to properly treat them.
#7: Their way of accepting each other
When you have more than one dog at home, licking each other’s ears is a good way of knowing that they accept and respect one another.
Their fellow dog is also a source of comfort whenever they feel scared or worried about their surroundings.
In fact, your pooch would probably do the same to you when they see you sad.
So, if you just finished watching a drama series from Netflix, don’t show them any tear leftover because they might run towards you to comfort you.
You don’t want your dog’s saliva all over your ear, right?
#8: Their way of grooming
It’s true that dogs have already mastered the art of grooming themselves.
But whatever they do, they can never reach every part of their body.
And their ears are one of those.
“I’m here to rescue you, my friend.”
That’s probably why their other furry friends are there, so they have someone to help them clean themselves.
So, if you see your dog getting ear-licked by another dog, just let them be.
They’re just giving each other a “home-service” grooming, just like what humans get in salons.
Look at this dog giving their fellow a good groom on each ear:
Further reading: 9 reasons why your dog gets in your face
#9: Something could be wrong
Dogs are not only attracted to the smell and taste of earwax, but they also like licking wounds, infections, and other grime on other dogs’ ears.
I know, I know.
For the nth time, they’re weird creatures.
Otitis externa, commonly known as outer ear infection, is a yellowish or brownish discharge in the ear.
The ear also emits a stinky odor and this could be the first hint that a dog gets.
Since they have an incredible sense of smell, they’ll know immediately who among the dogs need some ear-licking.
This kind of behavior in your dog only ends in two ways:
If your dog is correct and the other dog indeed has an ear infection, licking it can lead to further problems by causing more irritation.
But if they’re wrong yet they still overly lick the other dog’s ear, the dampness caused by the saliva can be a breeding ground for bacteria which will then be the source of infection.
Other causes of ear infection can be any of the following:
- Excessive earwax.
- Too much swimming.
Warning: Visit your vet immediately if you think your dog is suffering from any of these because it can be really painful for them.
#10: They’re anxious
You decided to get a new dog to join the family.
The biggest pooch you have, so far.
But all the other dogs seem to be afraid of them.
Anxiety is another factor that causes your dog to lick other dogs’ ears.
Especially when they see that the dog is bigger and stronger.
The common signs of anxiety to look for in your dog are:
- Constant digging.
- Destroying things.
- Avoidance of food.
- Frequent urination.
- Heavy barking or even howling.
- Cowering (e.g. in a corner, under the couch).
- Excessive licking (on themselves or to others).
So, if you see your little pooch constantly licking the newcomer’s ears, it means they’re trying to avoid fights.
Aside from that, they’re also trying to make themselves feel at ease.
If the bigger dog allowed them to continue what they’re doing, it means their attempt to be friendly and welcoming is working.
Below are the other causes of anxiety:
- New people.
- Changes in weather.
- Loud and sharp noises.
Note: Anxiety in dogs is treatable with the right approach, so don’t give up on your pooch. With patience and hard work, they’ll be back to their normal, cheerful doggy selves again.
Check out also: Top 10 reasons why dogs grab your arm
#11: An early sign of dementia
If you have an aging dog then you might see them licking themselves or others (people, pets, objects) nearby, for comfort and ease.
Canine Cognitive Decline (CCD) or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is commonly known as dementia in dogs.
Illnesses such as diabetes, loss of hearing and eyesight, kidney and skin disorder are some of the symptoms common in disoriented dogs suffering from this condition.
So, your older dog may be obsessively licking your other dog’s ear because they sleep or stay near each other and they can easily reach them.
You might also be interested in: 11 Odd Reasons Why My Dogs Growl At Nothing + 7 Tips
#12: They’re bored
If you see your dog constantly licking their sibling’s ear, then they’re probably bored.
When was the last time you bought them a new toy to nibble? Have you accompanied them to the park lately? When did you last play and bond with them?
Well, maybe that’s why your dog is checking out other fun things to do.
Plus, the other dog’s ear is so tempting, so why not?
If you’re worried for both of your dogs’ health and well-being, give them other alternatives.
Some of the options you can try:
- Interactive ball toy.
- Chew rope pull ball toy.
- Chew ring toy.
- Interactive doggie tail plush toy.
- Durable wishbone chew toy.
Interactive chew toys are great for keeping your dog’s mouth and mind busy.
Note: Although, this is not a foolproof solution to your problem because sometimes the smell and taste of the other dog’s ear is still irresistible for them, but it’s still worth trying.
#13: It’s their way of showing submission
Another reason why dogs lick other dogs’ ears is to show their submission.
Eer-licking is your dog’s way of telling them that they’re not a threat.
Through that behavior, they’re also letting them know that they respect and adore them.
In the past, licking their fellow dog’s ear was a way of showing their presence and telling them that they belong in the same pack.
According to VCA, below are the other signs that show your dog’s submissiveness:
- Rolling over.
- Crouching low.
- Showing their belly.
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Raising their paw (front).
- Lower their ears and head.
- Tail down or tucked between their legs.
Your dog also considers you as the dominant one.
So, these signs may not be new to you anymore.
They may have licked your ear as well at one point, but it was too late when you noticed.
People also ask:
Should I let my dog lick my other dog’s ears?
It’s okay to let your dog lick your other dog’s ears because it’s actually their way of grooming each other.
But if you notice your dog being so engrossed in their licking, you might need to step in and check, because your other dog might have an ear infection that will need a vet’s attention.
Can dogs get ear infections from other dogs licking their ears?
Dogs can indeed get ear infections from other dogs licking their ears especially if the recipient has long and thick fur in the ear area.
The other dog’s saliva causes the area to be damp for a long while which makes it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So, even if it’s okay to let them lick each other’s ears, a fur parent’s guidance is still advisable.